Home » Literacy » The Secret to High Pass Rates

The beginning of the New Year is a time of high anxiety for school pupils who sat for their Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council Ordinary Level Examinations in November and now have nightmares over their results. And as examination results are released the anxiety subsides for those who worked hard and are rewarded while woes befall those who wasted a good four years of their education life.

However, the anxiety subsists for schools that are rated annually on how their candidates fared, overall, compared to other schools across the country.

School rankings, released by Zimsec with the candidates’ results, come with celebrations for institutions that recorded good results.

This also means school authorities can take satisfaction for reaping the fruits of their efforts.

This year, as has been the case in recent years, mission schools continue to dominate the rankings producing students with a high pass rate.

However, the Zimsec school ratings have also been received with mixed reactions among concern that the institutions are not equal in terms of candidates, resources and selection criteria.

Among the Top 5 ranked schools according to Zimsec are Monte Cassino Mission, Kriste Mambo Secondary, Nyanga High School, St Dominic’s Chishawasha and St David’s Secondary.

It is also evident that top ranked schools are mission run institutions such as Salvation Army schools, Mazowe High and Howard High in Mashonaland Central province.

But what is the recipe for achieving a high pass rate in the 2014 O-Level exams and in previous years at these schools?

St David’s Bonda Girls’ High head Mr Custon Samanga attributed the high pass rates to self-discipline and commitment by its pupils.

In an interview, Mr Samanga also paid tribute to teachers’ dedication to their work and parents who take comments in the school report books seriously.

“We are moving towards creating a brand in line with our former glory that has been carried for decades. In the November 2014 O-Level examinations, it was a clear demonstration of our dedication towards high level of academic achievement,” said Mr Samanga.

St David’s Bonda Girls’ High School is occupying fifth position in the Zimsec November 2014 O-Level exams with a pass rate of 96,83 percent.

In the November 2013 O-Level exams, the school was positioned 18th with an 86,73 percent pass rate.

Mr Samanga said teachers at the school gave emphasis on treating pupils as individuals, which has gone a long way in achieving high academic results.

“We carry out our selection of pupils based on their achievements and behaviour and we take time to instil the Anglican ethos on them, which then becomes the foundation for their moral development and self-discipline giving them the vision to be successful.

“Our school has chaplains who see to it that prayers are carried out so that morals and Christian principles are upheld and this plays an important role in moulding our girls. The performance of most pupils from the Anglican family of schools is fairly outstanding because of our Christian background,” Mr Samanga said.

Mazowe High School headmaster Mr Thompson Katanda said discipline has helped in achieving a high pass rate.

He said the school staff goes an extra mile to ensure pupils achieve good results.

“We commit everything to God and our Christian ethics help in achieving high grades. We do not allow luxury items at the school so that students can focus on their school work,” he said.

Mazowe High School occupies position 19 in the 2014 examinations with a pass rate of 90,14 percent and in 2013, it held position 41 with a pass rate of 78,33 percent.

Howard High School head Mr Peter Dera said teachers go out of their way to ensure that every child passes.

“We also have a philosophy that if a child passes one subject at the beginning of the term, their teacher will work on the student’s failed subjects until a child passes them at the end of the year. Prayer is also very important at our school,” said Mr Dera.

Mr Dera added that Howard High School moulds its pupils to have good morals.

Howard High School occupies 34th position in 2014 with a pass rate of 83,72 percent.

In 2013, it held position 27 and a pass rate of 83,15 percent.

The Anglican-run Bernard Mizeki College in Mashonaland East has also seen a marked improvement in their performance levels.

The school achieved an 86,11 percent pass rate to improve its standings from 30th position to 29th this year.

School head Mr Peter Nheweyembwa attributed the school’s recent successes to the cordial relations shared between the staff and pupils at the boys-only school.

“It’s all about the hard work put in by the staff that has a 24 hour dedication and commitment to the education of the pupils at our school. It is also important to highlight the relationship that is shared between staff and the pupils because it creates an excellent learning environment for our children,” he said.

While comments from the school heads at some of the schools were not readily available some of the mission-run institutions are Catholic school-run Monte Cassino Secondary School in Mashonaland East occupying first position with 100 percent pass rate, Anglican school St Faith’s Secondary on 12th and a pass rate of 92,86 percent and Marist Brothers Nyanga Secondary (Catholic) in Manicaland on 13th position and a 92,56 percent pass rate.

However, the rankings have been received with mixed reactions with the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe expressing concern that different schools do not have the same number of candidates, infrastructure, equal resources and the same calibre of candidates at Form One among other things.

“In line with the above, one wonders the criteria and parameters Zimsec is using to come up with the rankings. It is also surprising that Zimsec alone has the prerogative of setting, marking, evaluating the examinations and ranking the schools as if they are the sole stakeholders in education,” said PTUZ in a statement.

The PTUZ said teachers should be rewarded for their efforts as some of them take children with 16 units up to 36 units at Grade 7 and ensuring that they attain five Cs at O-Level.

“A teacher who takes a candidate at Form 1 with anything between 16 and 36 units at Grade 7 and make them attain 5Cs at O-Level will have done a better job than those taking candidates with 4 Units at Grade 7 who end up with 5As.

“Zimsec’s ranking criteria promotes teaching for examinations yet the concept in education is to teach for life. Teachers in the rural, farms, peri-urban and high-density schools work under very difficult circumstances and must be commended for holding the fort and producing good results,” said PTUZ.

The PTUZ urged Government to ensure that teachers are well remunerated, their conditions of service are improved and housing for teachers is prioritised for better pass rates to be achieved.

Mr Ernest Jonga of Chitungwiza said the idea of rating schools based on the best O-Level results must be done in a way which does not demoralise the spirit of schools which deal with mixed abilities where the higher proportion of secondary school students is found in the country.

“Their work should be emulated for trying to educate every child despite the child’s financial and educational background,” said Mr Jonga.

Mrs Anna Macheka said the effort by teachers needs to be appreciated in ensuring that students achieve top results.

“The selection process is also discriminatory as only “best students” were chosen to learn at these schools,” she said.

Source : The Herald